Do Jehovah’s Witnesses believe in the theory of evolution? As a former Jehovah’s Witness who once spent an inordinate amount of time researching their Creation Book, I can tell you that the official answer is a resounding no. (The book is officially called Life-How did it get here? By evolution or by creation? But it is commonly just called the Creation Book by Jehovah’s Witnesses.) This book is the Watchtower Society’s magnum opus on evolution. Yet it remains infamous for an abundance of bad science, quote mining, and an embarrassing habit of strategically leaving off parts of quotes so as to alter their original meaning. (Yikes!) Many people have written about the book, including Austin Cline at About.com. Even Richard Dawkins devoted a chapter to it in The God Delusion. Think what you will, but it’s clear that the Society’s Creation Book has gotten around.
The Creation Book was first published back in 1985. Now, after remaining in print for more than two decades, it is no longer being produced. That hasn’t stopped the Watchtower Society from writing about the theory of evolution, but nowadays, the organization chooses to keep it all pretty simple. When you consider how many ex-Witnesses left the Society after doing extensive research on books like this one, that’s probably a good idea.
So what else has the Society said about evolution in recent years?
Creation Reveals the Living God is the title of an article at JW. org, the Watchtower Society’s website for all things Jehovah’s Witness. Not unlike the Creation Book, this article gives us a great look into how the Watchtower Society relates to “the world” (non-Jehovah’s Witnesses) and its love-hate relationship with science and history. Unfortunately, the article is mostly just a series of assertions and offers nothing in the way of facts – true or otherwise. Here’s a quote taken from the article.
One widespread false teaching that blinds people to the truth about God is the doctrine of evolution. This human reasoning contradicts the Bible and robs people of hope. In its basic form, the teaching of evolution asserts that all life came into existence spontaneously; it thus implies that human life has no purpose.
Anyone paying attention will see that there’s a lot wrong just in this tiny paragraph.
The idea that evolution “blinds people to the truth about God” seems debatable since millions believe evolution is true while also believing in God. The Society can’t even claim that the theory denies God as a creative force because believers in evolutionary creationism believe that God used evolution to create the diversity of life we know today. How are they connecting A to B here?
The article claims that evolution is a “doctrine,” perhaps to suggest that evolution is merely an alternative doctrine to creationism or that this is a battle of two religious dogmas. If so, is this a fair point? Theories can be changed or overturned based on evidence. Doctrines, not so much. Theories are not established by the authority of a book or a single entity, but by evidence and repeated experimentation performed by multiple sources. I could go on, but the point is that no, they’re not the same. They ‘re really quite different.
Next, the authors tell us that evolution “robs people of hope.” How, exactly, does evolution rob people of hope? Hope for what? Of not evolving? Probably not. Is Jehovah going to punish people for accepting the idea that evolution is true? If so, that seems more than a tad harsh. If not, then what hope is evolution taking away?
Then they confuse evolution with abiogenesis, which is just wrong. No, evolution does not “assert that all life came into existence spontaneously.” That’s abiogenesis you’re thinking of, guys. It’s about how the diversity of life on the planet came to be. They got that wrong in the Creation Book too. Like many creationists, the Society often cobbles all of science under one big evil umbrella and stabs it with pitchforks. Except the science behind phones and cars and printing presses. That stuff’s the bomb.
Finally, the paragraph tells us that the theory of evolution “implies that human life has no purpose.” How? At most, it implies that we are not born with any special purpose in mind, but only if you assume that evolution equals atheism, which it doesn’t. We can still choose a purpose for our lives whether evolution is true or untrue. Same goes for Jehovah God. So what’s the connection here?
So far, the article seems long on assertions but short on facts. :/ What else does it say?
On the other hand, fundamentalists of Christendom teach that the universe, including our earth and all life on it, is only a few thousand years old. Those who teach this doctrine—known as creationism—may have high regard for the Bible, but they contend that God created all things in six 24-hour days just a few thousand years ago. They reject credible scientific evidence that contradicts their view.*
*Pot, meet kettle…
As you can see, the Society makes no claim of solidarity with other faiths, even when they share similar teachings. They also don’t like to use words in the ways that the rest of us use them. This practice is referred to as “loaded language,” by the way. Here, they relabeled young Earth creationism as just “creationism,” probably to separate their brand of creationism from that of everyone else in the mind of their followers. The first time I saw this use of the word “creationism” was in another article, called Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Believe in Creationism? In reality, it’s all just creationism of one sort or another.
I should point out that Jehovah’s Witnesses are old Earth creationists, but young Earth historians. The Society teaches that human civilization is only about 6,000 or 7,000 years old, but the Earth itself could still be billions.
More detailed information about Jehovah’s Witnesses and evolution can be found in the links below.
Here are some links about Jehovah’s Witnesses and evolution that might interest you.
Video review of the brochure: Using Our Power of Reason (Review of “The Origin of Life: Five Questions Worth Asking”)
This brochure tackles both the “Origin of Life” and “Was Life Created?” brochures by the Watchtower Society. Note that you can get those brochures at the links listed above.
This article lists many of the quotations that were used in the Origin of Life brochure that were actually taken out of context.
Note that the link above will take you to a paper written by a former Jehovah’s Witness back when the Creation Book was first written. It reflects the scientific knowledge of the time. Biologists know more now. The homepage is called Research on the Watchtower. It contains other articles about the Society’s teachings on science and history.
Evowiki’s links to articles about Life–How Did It Get Here? By Evolution or By Creation?
Finally – for the laughs – here is an article from a website that more or less spoofs the Watchtower magazine. The article is called Evolution: A Satanic Theory.